This book was written after Mayne Reid discovered that writing books in which not too many people died, and there was not too much violence, was better business than writing as he did at first. There are three boys living with their father, now just a little disabled, but an avid collector of natural-history specimens. The father says he would give almost anything for the hide of a white buffalo, and that such a beast exists cannot be disputed. The boys volunteer to get up an expedition to bring back the much-desired hide, and off they go.
This book is the story of their quest. But it is also an interesting exposition of the animals and plants that inhabit the great prairies of America. The only real fault is that we are inevitably given the Latin name of the plant or animal. I don’t know why I should object to this, but I do. I don’t think it sits well within speech.
Still, the story is really interesting, and I greatly enjoyed transcribing it. I am sure I will read it many more times before my days are numbered, if I can.
REID, Thomas Mayne (1818-83).
Irish writer of boys' stories, born in Ballyroney, County Down. In 1840 he emigrated to New Orleans, settled as a journalist in Philadelphia (1843), and served in the US army during the Mexican war (1847), where he was severely wounded. Returning to Britain in 1849, he settled down to a literary life in London. His vigorous style and hairbreadth escapes delighted his readers. Among his books, many of which were popular in translation in Poland and Russia, were The Rifle Rangers (1850), Scalp Hunters (1851), Boy Hunters (1853), War Trail (1851), Boy Tar (1859), and Headless Horseman (1866). He went back to New York in 1867 and founded the Onward Magazine, but returned to England in 1870.
(With acknowledgements to Chambers Biographical Dictionary)
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature mentions that he was the son of a Presbyterian Minister, and that the first two books mentioned above were for a general readership. When he returned to England the publisher Davis Bogue suggested that he should write books specifically for boys, catering for the Christmas market each year. He was a naturalist, and wrote about the creations of Nature, where many other Victorian authors would have been all moralising and pious. He was a great admirer of Byron, and some of his heroes are Byronic in temperament.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Hewlett-Packard scanner, a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner or a Nikkon Coolpix 5700 camera to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used TextBridge Pro 98 or ABBYY Finereader 7 or 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read at www.athelstane.co.uk